While working on night shifts for a short period of time (from a few days to weeks) is somewhat alright; working on night shifts or rotating shifts continuously (over a few years) have adverse effects on one’s health.
The direct impact is the one that conflicts with the natural phenomenon or biology. Other aspects like (over) consumption of junk food, caffeine / alcoholic beverages, irregular food habits, aging factor, lack of physical exercise and lack of exposure to natural light complicate the health issues further.
Now looking at the actual impacts. As a human being, we have evolved over a period of time, to be active during the day and asleep during the night. The body’s biology is tuned to work along with the natural light. Now, changing this rhythm has both short term and long term impacts;
Short Term Impacts;
- Insomnia – One can never get as deep sleep during the day as in the night, because of various factors like natural light, external noise and mainly the human brain tries to remain alert during the day. Gets more complex when you have a family with kid(s).
- Acidity /Indigestion/constipation/ Heartburn – Lack of proper sleep and irregular food habits results in imbalanced acid secretion in one’s stomach.
- Reduced immunity, because some of the hormones that are secreted by exposure to natural light are imbalanced. This results in frequent sickness like a common cold, fever, headache, short attention spans (which in turn might result in accidents)
- The general feeling of being isolated, as most of your friends and family, are working during the day and asleep during the night. (You might have some good acquaintance at your workplace, but at some point, they will be good colleagues but can’t replace your friends and family)
Long Term Impacts;
- Cardio Vascular diseases (heart attack), which could be a result of increased cholesterol, obesity, diabetes or blood pressure or a combination of these.
- Severe Gastrointestinal disorders (Stomach ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, tumors in the colon, piles)
- Menstrual, fertility & pregnancy disorders in women, as a result of hormone imbalance.
- Vitamin D deficiency, because you don’t get the Vitamin D that is available in natural light. (Supplements are just supplements; cannot match the natural sunlight). Vitamin-D is essential for calcium absorption by the body. Lack of Vitamin D results in weaker bones. One develops pain in joints and even a minor trip and fall might result in a bone fracture.
- Depression/mood disorders – Obviously over the years, you have been distanced from your friends; you try to go on a vacation – but can’t just sleep in the night and enjoy the day tours; can’t spend quality time with your family.